A thriving office community can be difficult to achieve, depending on how big your company is. An office can be a place where people come in from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM do their jobs and leave, but if you’re like us, we want more from our work lives and we feel that we deserve more too!
For a startup, it is extremely important for the productivity and well-being of your employees, clients and various partners to feel like they are a part of something bigger (even when you’re not big yet).
Here are three ways to ensure your startup community is being nurtured to grow and thrive:
1. Hire a Community Manager
A Community Manager is an extension of your brand, they are a passionate spokesperson who communicates to people what your startup can offer. They are an online presence as well as an offline one, an outbound marketer and an inbound one. They are the familiar face that greet your clients and potential clients. Their goal is to expand your community and raise awareness. They do this by approaching marketing from a P2P (person to person) approach, addressing people as individuals and learning their needs to create tailored solutions.
Internally, the Community Manager can help onboard new members (especially if you haven’t hired a dedicated HR professional yet). They can ensure new hires feel welcome and organize different events/initiatives to bring the community together. Your employees will enjoy being in the office because they feel like they fit in and belong.
For a more comprehensive Community Manager job description, check out this one by Erin Bury Managing Director of 88 and former Community Manager for Sprouter.
2. Create a Strong, Identifiable Culture
A companies culture is determined by the CEO. However, it’s important to find ways to ensure that culture is being translated on the ground level of the community. How can you make sure people understand what to expect and how to live out your company culture authentically.
In our office it’s giving people our employee handbook. The handbook doesn’t have boring HR processes or rules. Instead, it outlines how we work: flexible work hours, autonomy, we like to wear black, we communicate in GIFs, the first rule of salad club is we do not speak of salad club, and so much more that makes our company unique. But like the handbook says, “With great power comes great responsibility, we expect big things from you.” Our handbook expresses our easy going,progressive and rebellious nature.
Make sure creating a strong community doesn’t slip through the cracks, because as Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” And it has more to do with the bottom line than you think.
Now, a strong culture is important but identifiable is another key word here. How would your employees describe your company culture right now? A quick test, is to see if the language they’re using to describe your company culture overlaps. Are they saying similar things? Where’s the disconnect and how can you ensure everyone not only understands it but lives it authentically.
3. Trust Your People
(sounds obvious, but not many managers don’t actually do it)
Trust people to do the work they were hired to do. Otherwise, why hire them in the first place? Let’s face it, micromanaging doesn’t help anybody do their job better. In reality, people often do their BEST work when they feel like their leaders have confidence in their ability to get the job done.
Startups are usually lean, especially in the early stages. Have faith in the people you hired, to do right by the company to help it grow. Most startup employees know that their growth/development and job security depends on the startup growing. Allow them to put their best foot forward to help the company do that, don’t stand in their way.
Give them options, let them call the shots, give them a budget to work with. Trusting your employee is about giving them more responsibility and letting them lead projects to completion.
If people want to try doing different tasks or have other talents that can contribute to other parts of the company let them explore that. The beauty of a startup is you aren’t pigeonholed into one role, expertise/talents can cross over to help with other initiatives that maybe don’t fall under your actual ‘job description’. It’s just another way to trust your employees to share their skills in different ways and show active appreciation for their contributions.
Not only does trusting people help with attracting the right kind of employees, but it encourages them to stay, reducing turnover, it’s a win-win.